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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bunking Together During SHTF

I saw an interesting post over at Survivalblog today. It got me to thinking on the matter. While this isn't entirely focused on groups there is definitely some overlap. I can think of two quantifiable points and a few intangibles. In and around that will be some examples and thoughts.

We are generally talking about people we know well, usually friends and family. However especially in a bad situation people people tend to look after their selves at least partially in most decisions. It is a lot more likely that someone will be OK with an extended house guest if they perceive that guest as being useful in some way. Maybe it isn't nice but I think it is true.

A friend or relative might think that having a veteran/ cop with a pump shotgun sleeping on their couch during the aftermath of a hurricane might be a good decision.

Also people are far more likely to be willing to take someone in if that person doesn't need much from them. The first point is what a guest brings to the table and the second is what they take away. Being able to provide for some or most of ones own basic life needs makes a guest a lot more attractive. Generally this means having food and maybe fuel,  or water/ the means to filter it.

A friend or relative would almost surely think that having a veteran/ cop with a pump shotgun who brought a bunch of food, water and a Coleman stove with some fuel sleeping on their couch during a riot would be a good decision.

Aside from the two above observations the big thing is having a plan in advance. I am not talking about a full on group, though having one is not a bad idea. It could be as simple as having a conversation with your uncle who lives 20 miles out of town on a little farm. The point is that you don't want to find out that he would rather ride out the aftermath of a hurricane (or whatever but hurricanes are common and widespread enough to cause real problems) alone with a packed car that is running on fumes. Of course you should keep at least some fuel around, especially in hurricane country but that is another discussion. Also if you have a plan then pre positioning some supplies may be possible. Particularly if someone lives in a rural area with a bit of land (generally the sort of place you want to go anyway) then space isn't a huge issue. If they do not have a huge barn that is a relic of the working farm the place used to be rural people generally have space. I imagine at this point if you asked to put up a little shed near the main house/ shop/ whatever but out of the way they would be fine with it. Depending on your skills, budget and needs one of those pre fab things might work or you could build something nice, maybe even with a couple bunk beds if the climate suits it.

Shelter is a point of friction and when it comes to putting significantly more people than we are used to in a home it isn't ideal. However if things were ideal you would all be hanging out in your own places like normal. Climate and the situation are big factors in your options. Any but the heartiest souls do not want to sleep in a tent in the winter in Michigan. Also in a situation where defense from more than an average looter/ burglar is an issue having people divided and all over the place would be really bad. If there are 3 feet of snow and you are fighting off the people from New Burn then suck it up and have a bunch of people sleeping in the living room. Otherwise hanging out in the house and retiring to sleep in a tent might not be a bad idea. If your budget is a bit flexible then a small travel trailer might be a great answer for some of these situations. For a non super worst case scenario you could keep one comfortable at night with just the tanks of propane it could carry.

When it comes to being a house guest I take come cues from my Gypsy Uncle. He is like the Kato Kaelin of the greater Pacific Northwest and is the closest thing to a professional house guest I know of. He has 3 notable characteristics that (probably developed over years of practice) lend themselves well to this sort of lifestyle. First he is never a bother, at all. Unless you were having a conversation with him or looking at the place he was sitting/ laying  or the corner his bag was in you would never know he was there. Next he does not need to be entertained. If you have something to do he might watch some TV or read a book or take a walk or have a nap or whatever. He is certainly not anti social (in fact he is pretty fun) but if you are doing something else that is cool too. Last he is always willing to help out. If you are working in the garden he will lend a hand, if you cooked dinner he will always offer to help with the dishes.

One rather natural situation for doubling up/ bunking together is the relatively young and the somewhat older. Young people are often energetic and physically capable but have not yet been able to get onto great logistical footing let alone purchase their own retreat. Older folks (say 55+) have had decades to build up great logistics and build a retreat. However older folks often have old injuries and just plain wear and tear on their bodies that would be a real issue if regressing to a 19th century lifestyle was the only way to survive. While it is true that you see a lot of farmers who are pretty old, I think even they would admit that has plenty to do with trucks, tractors and combines. [At one point we had an arraignment like this. A fellow we know has a very sound logistical footing at a well planned retreat. His biggest needs were a younger back and help with defense as well as more hands to do work in an absolute worst case scenario. A fall of a ladder that would leave me bruised and sore the next day might take him out of action for a few days, or worse. Wifey and I could show up with the clothes on our backs and be an asset.] The thing I like best about this sort of situation is that the two groups naturally balance out each others weaknesses and it is mutually beneficial.

So I guess in conclusion: bring something to the table, provide for as many of your needs as possible, plan in advance and if you are going to be a house guest, be a good one.